Popular WordPress Themes Remove Obtrusive Admin Notices to Conform to New Theme Directory Requirement

Last month the WordPress Theme Review Team took action to curb obtrusive admin notices, requiring all themes to use the admin_notices API and follow the core design pattern. Prior to this rule going into effect, many themes would commonly display a large, branded notice upon activation. Sometimes these came with a prompt to install more plugins or instructions for getting started.

The Theme Review Team began prompting the authors of themes already known to be in violation of this guideline, to change their notices as soon as possible or risk suspension. Popular themes are rolling out updates that include cleaned-up notices.

Storefront, WooCommerce’s flagship theme, was one of the themes the team cited during the meeting as an example of the notices that the team was looking to discourage with this new requirement. Its large post-activation notice took up half the screen and was previously displayed on every page. Storefront 2.5.2 replaces the notice with one that conforms to the new rule.

Storefront updated admin notices

The Noto theme from Pixelgrade, which previously had nearly a full-page branded onboarding screen with a call-to-action, has updated to a smaller notice that appears in the designated area for admin notices. Futurio has also scaled back its post-installation footprint and now displays a simple, compliant message with a “Get Started” button.

Theme authors are still finding creative ways to brand their notices, but they are now much less obtrusive and confined to the expected area. They are still able to communicate the necessary information for getting started, without cluttering the admin by taking over half the screen.

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12 Comments


  1. The notices should not be annoying but can not be eliminated at all, this would cause developers to lose interest or seek other less ethical ways to achieve the task of promoting your product. It’s something natural, Google and other big advertising companies do it.

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    1. I agree completely here and we have tried very hard to not make this a complete limitation.

      What I really want too is for them to be less annoying, just as you say. I hear from other theme authors often when they feel like a certain theme they have seen has gone over the top with their activation notice. What is worse though is that I regularly hear that same complaint from end users that are actually trying out the themes for their own sites :(

      If the activation notice appears in the notice area then they should look like a notice – similar to the existing core notice look and feel. Users shouldn’t be conditioned to expect these to be adverts but that is what I see happen too often.

      People are welcome (and encouraged) to explore what is possible here and we can certainly reevaluate constraints again if that is what I end up hearing needs done :)

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  2. Well, thanks for the information. But i dod not think this notices should be eliminated.

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    1. We are not eliminating these notices :)

      Do you have any other thoughts to share about what you think the notices should be like, if that is different to what the article here points out that we requested to be changed?

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    2. Great. Now can they do the same with plugins. Especially the well-known ones pitching you to upgrade to Premium….

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    1. What Chucky says! You only have one theme in play to annoy you, but can be loaded up with marketing notices even on premium plugins. On the other hand, plugin notices can be so annoying I work hard to avoid any plugin unless it is the only cost-effective way to add a high value function.

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  3. Finaaaaaaaaaaaally. I seriously hate plugins/themes that over do it on the notifications. It is spamming. I even seen a plugin that the close/dsmiss link is only 12 months.

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  4. About freaking time!

    Now…just one major change to have happen…lose the Popular List at .org! Just keep the Featured and the New lists! The popular list is a monopoly for a few select sites/shops, Godaddy being one. Seriously unfair list when you see them make $1000’s per week in upsells, not to mention grabbing loads of traffic. The popular list is not really a popular “theme” list, it’s strictly a result of massive traffic based sites that can capitalize on the loopholes of this list. In addition, I’d also suggest no more upsells for free themes at .org

    WPTavern…you should do a thoroughly researched article on this issue.

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  5. Hoping this is done for plugins as well. Just updated Swift performance caching plugin and received a Dashboard advert to upgrade to their premium version that took up the whole screen!!!

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    1. I encourage you to reach out to the plugin authors that do this and tell them when it annoys you. They might just change/remove their notices once they know it is a nuisance to their users 🙂

      This is happening in themes because users have told me they did not like it. I passed those reports along to the theme authors. Theme author decide to change it because they do not like users to be complaining.

      Not everyone is being ‘forced’ to change it – many authors are willingly changing it because they realise that annoying their users cost them more than they earn from the notices. I hope this results in positive benefits all round 🙂

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